Sales Acronyms – BANT: What You Need To Know

BANT: Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline

The professional world of sales is filled with acronyms and terms that are used for the sake of brevity and efficiency. Each industry has their own unique set of acronyms that stand for different things. Sales is no different. Allow me to start with BANT.

What is BANT? 

BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. It was first developed at IBM some time ago and has since revolutionized the way that people sell, particularly in the software industry.

The reason it became so popular was that it was a simple framework by which anyone could quickly and fairly accurately qualify their sales opportunities. By ensuring that reps were able to pull the necessary information and identify 3 of the 4 items in this criterion, sales managers could be confident that the situation at hand was indeed a genuine opportunity with a strong likelihood of closing.

B – Budget

If a prospect was to inform you as a rep that they have already set aside a budget for the initiative at hand, it’s a strong indicator that the company is serious about making something happen. Whether that opportunity for business is brought to your company or not is an entirely different story but at the very least you know that target account has the necessary funds if all things align.

That said, you might start to think that the ideal sales situation is to always have a budget already identified. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Having a budget before engagement definitely means that there is serious consideration but there are external factors you also need to consider.

For example, having a budget set means the prospect has already put a price in their mind on how much they value your particular product or service. Furthermore, if they do already have a budget pre-determined it’s likely that it’s been set due to their engagement with another vendor. This is not at all a guarantee but it’s definitely a possibility.

A – Authority

Having authority in this process means that you as the rep have identified who the stakeholders, decision makers and financial signers are for this initiative within the account. The reason I separate these individuals is because oftentimes, and especially in a larger organization, these are different people.

For example, when a company is looking to bring on a new tool for their sales team, the stakeholders are the members of that sales team as they are going to be the ones using the tool day in and day out. If the tool that’s brought on board happens to be ineffective or have a horrible user experience, they are the ones that are going to have to suffer and as so understandably they have a huge stake in the evaluation.

Having a huge stake in the decision though does not make them the decision maker. There is always someone who needs to approve the decision; someone to give the final okay before everything is finalized and agreed upon. It’s possible that the decision maker ends up actually being a group of people but they are usually managers, directors or other executives in the organization.

A decision maker’s signature will definitely be necessary to complete the deal but more importantly, you’ll also need the signature of someone in charge of finances in order to finalize any paperwork. Depending on the organization the decision maker may also be the financial signer, that is they’ve been given authority over finances, but more often than not this is likely to be a different person who sits in the finance department.

N – Need

Now to move on to the need. Understanding the need of an organization is to understand their situation and challenges. In essence, this is the why behind the initiative. What is motivating them to pursue your product or services? Why are they choosing to engage with you now?

Are they just kicking the tires because it seems to be the new industry trend? Or is it perhaps in response to some incident that has recently occurred within their organization?

Whatever the motivating factor is, it’s very important for you as a sales rep to identify what it is. This can perhaps be considered to be one of the most important factors of this criterion as it will give you the most power in being a successfully persuasive sales professional. The stronger their motivation, the more power you have to sell without a discount or push for a quicker sale. Maybe even both.

T – Timeline

Having a timeline means that you have spoken with the prospect and they’ve mentioned there being a specific date by which they’d like to make a decision or finish implementation.

This is perhaps the second most powerful factor of this criterion as it’s another lever you can use to speed up your current sales cycle. If ever you feel as though the progress in the sales process is slowing down, you can kindly remind your prospect of their goal to have the solution or service implemented by a certain date.

From there you can work backwards to illustrate what groundwork needs to be laid out in order for you guys to meet their given timeline. The keyword here being their timeline. This is not a time frame that you as a rep are imposing on them but rather one that they’ve divulged to you for whatever reason.

Your power now comes in being a diligent consultant that’s working to help your prospects better achieve their goals.

Conclusion: BANT

Hopefully, this quick overview of the BANT qualification criteria has been useful in helping you understand how you can better qualify your opportunities. It’s highly likely that it’s something you are already using for your day-to-day work but perhaps this has given you some deeper insights as to why this method of qualification has become such an industry standard.

-Dean Park

Dean Park is a seasoned tech sales professional that’s been involved with a wide range of organizations from startups to enterprise businesses. Dean is also a sales mentor at GrowthX Academy in San Francisco.

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  1. […] all been well. Here is Part 2 of our sales acronym series. If you haven’t already checked out Part 1 of the series go ahead and check it out. We went over the meaning of BANT and why it is an […]

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